Friday, November 20, 2009

Love of the church is love for Christ

In his address to the bishops of the United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Papal nuncio to the U.S., quoted this beautiful passage from something Pope Paul VI wrote towards the end of his life: A Thought About Death:

"I pray that the Lord gives me the grace to make my imminent death a gift of love to the Church. I could say that I always loved her; it was her love that drew me out of my petty and uncontrolled selfishness and guided me to her service; for her, and for no one else, I think I have lived. I would like the Church to know it, as a confidence of the heart, which only at life’s end does one have the courage to express.

"Finally, I would like to comprehend her entirely: in her history, in her divine plan, in her final destiny, in her complex, total, and unitary composition, in her human and imperfect consistency, in her disasters and her sufferings, in her weakness and in the misery of so many of her children, in her less pleasing aspects, and in her perennial efforts of fidelity, love, perfection, and charity.

"Mystical Body of Christ: I want to embrace her, greet her, love her, in every being which she consists of, in every bishop and priest who assists and guides her, in every soul that lives for her and honors her."

Of course, it was Papa Montini who restored the diaconate as a permanent order in the church, permitting married men to serve in an ordained capacity. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

Following the papal tradition of visting the tombs of their predecessors in November, Pope Benedict XVI visited Pope Paul's grave this month. The current Holy Father also visited his birth place.

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